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Big Wheels Keep On Turning: An Early Transition Period For Yankees Fans

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"Hmmm Hmmmm Alabama. Now I'm closing for the Yanks. Hmmm Hmmmmm Alabama." -David Robertson sings to himself while closing for the Yankees last night against the Rays.
"Hmmm Hmmmm Alabama. Now I'm closing for the Yanks. Hmmm Hmmmmm Alabama." -David Robertson sings to himself while closing for the Yankees last night against the Rays.

Mood Music - Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

With a lot of the Yankees news out there still focusing on Mariano Rivera's injury, the surgery and everything that is coming along with it, I figured that I'd contribute to the other part of the Mo saga which is the closer role now in the hands of Pinstripe Alley's favorite "8th inning guy" David Robertson. D-Rob is now the Yankees closer. When we last talked about this, it was not officially stated by Yankees Manager and Binder Host Symbiote Joe Girardi that Robertson was going to be the closer due to the fact that Pinstripe Alley's least favorite "7th inning guy" Rafael Soriano offered experience in the closer role via his time with his previous team, the Tampa Bay Rays, so he was considered a legitimate candidate over D-Rob. Some still think he's the better choice for the job.

Before last night, there were questions whether Soriano's closer experience would beat out Robertson's "being really freakin' awesome at relief pitching" skills. As we saw last night, Robertson had the skills to pay the bills as he recorded his first save since the Mo tragedy, and the Yankees won. Afterwards, Girardi officially stated that D-Rob was the closer. So here we are, in the beginning of the Houdini era of closing out Yankee games. I say the beginning because according to all the reports and tweets and direct quotes from the man himself, Mo is planning to pitch again in 2013. If everything goes well for Mariano, and we all hope it does, he will reclaim the closer role in 2013 and Enter Sandman will play on the Yankees loudspeakers once again. However, even with Mo scheduled to return for 2013, a lot of fans were getting use to the fact that Mo could not pitch forever, that 2012 might have been his last year anyway, and that David Robertson would most likely be next in line for the job. For the time being, the job is his and it actually offers Yankees fans something unique to look at, something that some of them have actually never really seen or experienced before. It could actually be a blessing in disguise.

IGYARticles make you want to Jump Jump...

Despite how much I love to preach that Mariano Rivera can pitch forever, really really really deep inside my Mo loving heart is the knowledge that he cannot. Growing up with Rivera coming out for the 9th inning to save the game for the Yankees has been one of the greatest luxuries a Yankees fan this era can name. One could argue that it's been the numero uno luxury Yankees fans of this era have had, besides perhaps the actual luxury of the Yankees cash money. However, we all know that it was never going to last, despite how long it has actually lasted. I mean, what Rivera has accomplished in his role will be talked about for generations to come. His name will be synonymous with baseball legends. I could really spend this entire article simply praising the man, but like the title says, this is about transition.

Everything is different now. I don't know if my other fellow writers, posters, lurkers, or other Yankee fans out there felt it, but everything is different now. For the first time since I can honestly remember, Enter Sandman did not play in the Top of the 9th inning with the Yankees leading by one, two, or three runs. That sense of ease, that sense that "Well, you know who is coming in so I can relax!" was no longer there. Again, it's a luxury many Yankees fans of this era have known for some time. Honestly, some Yankee fans growing up have known nothing else but the feeling you get when Rivera enters the game. Enter Sandman, which reminds many fans of 9th inning saves was now replaced by Sweet Home Alabama, which reminds I'mGivingYouARaise of the movie Con-Air.

What's really helpful in this transition, at least for me, is that I really like the movie Con-Air. No wait, that has nothing to do with this. What's really helpful in this transition, at least for me, is that I like the song Sweet Home Alabama. Okay, that has a little more to do with this than Con-Air, but still not the point. No, the point is that what's really helpful in this transition, at least for me, is that I really like David Robertson. Not only do I like him, but he's really good at what he does and he's also pretty good looking, at least according to one fellow writer/co-host who shall remain nameless y'all. Be that as it may, this is still a transition period and believe it or not it could actually be a blessing in disguise.

Before anyone lays down the jump to conclusions mat, while this might be a blessing in disguise for reasons I'll get right into, in no way am I glad that Mo got injured. I shouldn't have to explain this at all, but I just want to be clear about this fact. Now back to the main point. Con-Air really is a fantastic movie, in which Nic Cage simply shines as...wait, no. The blessing in disguise, especially if Mariano Rivera does return to pitch in 2013, is that Yankees fans actually have a chance to experience an early preview of what life is going to be like without him. It's pretty clear now that Mo is out for the year, despite the hope that he might pitch again in the postseason or anything like that. From what we've seen up till now, D-Rob is clearly the man for the job. For a while now, I thought he's been the man to take over for Rivera when he finally retires. The stuff is there and I think for a lot of fans, especially D-Rob fans, the trust is there. Is the sense of "Mo safety blanket" there? No. I won't even say "not yet" because I honestly don't know if that will ever be there.

Last night David Robertson saved the game for the Yankees, but he did it in his typical Houdini fashion. The bases were loaded before he got the final strikeout to end the game. It's something we've seen from D-Rob for a while now, hence his Houdini nickname. The few times he pitched before this game, D-Rob has actually been pretty lights out and has ignored the Houdini act. Again, fans are use to seeing David Robertson get in and out of trouble, just not in the closer role. Is it that different seeing it in the 8th inning instead of the 9th? It shouldn't be, since he usually gets out of it. I mean, what difference does it make since if he does give up those runs, there's a good chance we don't see Mo come out in the 9th inning anyway. Yet, it is different. It's just not the same since Mo has owned the 9th inning for as long as many of us can remember. This is an early preview of what fans will have to get use to.

Other baseball fans are already use to this, because they haven't had Rivera. Hell, let us look at this year's "proven closers" around the majors. Valverde of the Tigers has already blown two saves and came really close to blowing one last night against the Mariners. Heath Bell, signed to a pretty nice contract by the Marlins to close games, has recently been demoted from the role due to a case of the suckage. Jonathan Papelchump recently gave up the lead to the Mets on Monday. Even though it wasn't a save situation, he still blew it. Again, they are not Mariano Rivera. Neither is D-Rob, but the great thing for Yankees fans is the fact that D-Rob might be a better relief pitcher than all of the "proven closers" not named Rivera that I just mentioned. I won't bring up the stats, because that's not my thing and I leave that to the experience statisticians, but from everything I've seen from watching all these players pitch, it looks to me like Robertson is better.

This is, again, where the blessing in disguise factor comes in. What if D-Rob IS better than all of them? With or without his Houdini act, what if he winds up measuring up to the role and becomes a really good closer? We already know he's a fantastic relief pitcher, but as the closer for the Yankees, he is taking over for the best relief pitcher ever. The person taking over that role was not going to have an easy time of it, especially with those spoiled rotten, dark, twisted, evil Yankees fans who potentially booed Ivan Nova last night after he gave up a home run (the booing could've been for something different, but you never know with those "classy" fans). The shortstop who takes over for Derek Jeter is going to be under the exact same microscope. However, if David Robertson continues to do what he does and pitch really well in relief, especially in the closer role, it might be just the thing we all need; a gentle nudge into the idea of life without Mariano Rivera.

If David Robertson continues his fantastic relief work in the closer role in 2012, it should make the idea of life without Rivera that much more comfortable an idea. It's honestly something I've never liked to think about cause I've seen what life before Rivera was like for the Yankees. Thanks to my job, I've seen what life is like without Rivera for other teams as well. There's no question that we're all incredibly spoiled. Having said that (I've probably said that a lot in this heavy word count fluff piece), here we are with the chance to possibly continue our spoiled lifestyle. Seriously, what kind of insane luck would that be to get a closer after Mo with D-Rob's potential? Time will tell if Robertson can continue his relief pitching mastery, but no matter what he will give us an idea of what life without Rivera will be like. Even if it's just for a year, it's still going to be interesting to study the fans throughout all of this and how they deal with it. At this point, you should know how much I love to do that, even when I'm also part of the study group. No one expected it to happen this way but in the long run, whether good or bad, I think it will be a welcome wake up call for fans who really just don't know anything else. This was always coming. Now it's here and we all have to deal with it. Just like Cameron Po had to rise up and defeat the villain Cyrus the Virus, David Robertson must rise up and defeat the villain of speculation and doubt.

Wow, that was a horrible analogy. No more Con-Air for me for a while.